The will is often thought of as the most basic of estate planning tools. This is true to a certain extent. This document basically spells out how one's assets will be distributed upon death.
As easy as that may sound, the truth is that even basic estate planning requires a lot of attention to detail to carry out effectively. Failing to thoroughly vet your will and other estate planning documents, such as trusts and powers of attorney, can lead to disastrous consequences for your estate and your beneficiaries and heirs.
So, let's take a look at some of the most common issues that arise in the creation of wills and trusts. One of the biggest mistakes is failing to update beneficiary designations and name contingent beneficiaries. By neglecting to do so, an individual may see his or her assets pass into the hands of an ex-spouse or other undesirable party, thereby leaving a new spouse and family cut out of the line of succession.
Another common mistake is naming specific investments in a will. This can be problematic because it may require the estate to go out and purchase those investments, often at a higher price, if they are no longer held by the estate. This can drain he estate's remaining assets, leaving some heirs constructively cut out of the picture.
There are a whole host of other issues, too. Leaving assets to a minor child without figuring out who will manage those assets until the child turns the age of majority can invite a lot of problems. So, too, can neglecting to consider what will happen to assets if a named beneficiary passes away before he or she inherits.
As you can see, successful estate planning requires diligence and thoroughness. An estate planner not only has to have a solid vision for the future of his or her estate, but he or she also needs a full understanding of the law and how it can be utilized to his or her advantage. This is where the skill and experience of a competent estate planning attorney may prove beneficial.